Chicago’s booming tourism and hospitality industry is on pace to meet Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s objective of attracting a record 55 million annual visitors to the Windy City much earlier than expected. First announced in early 2014, Emanuel’s initiative had originally hoped to reach its target by 2020. Chicago is now on pace to hit the 55 million mark by the end of 2017—a full three years early.
This isn’t the first time in recent memory that Chicago exceeded tourism goals sooner than expected. After becoming mayor in 2011, Emanuel had originally pushed for 50 million visitors by 2020 but set his sights higher after hitting that mark in three short years. In 2016, the total number of tourists had soared to a record 54 million.
Chicago is on track to reach its goal of 55M visitors annually by the end of this year, 3 years early! @IFT’s new 10-year commitment to hold its yearly meeting in Chicago will help the City break tourism records. #ChooseChicago (PC: Roman Boed) pic.twitter.com/223eccouN0— Mayor Rahm Emanuel (@ChicagosMayor) November 12, 2017
Despite negative national headlines dominated by the city’s issue with violent crime—not to mention a “worse than Afghanistan” description from President Donald Trump—Chicago is still more popular than ever among tourists. Named the number one big city in the U.S. to visit by Condé Nast Traveler, the Second City has emerged as a top culinary and cultural destination.
Thanks to Chicago’s recent Year of Public Art initiative, the Chicago Architecture Biennial, an expanded Riverwalk, improvements to Navy Pier, and thousands of new hotel rooms, tourists have more things to do (and places to stay) than ever before.
- Mayor Emanuel Outlines Vision for Continued Expansion and Growth of Tourism in Chicago [City of Chicago]
- Chicago Breaks Tourism Record With 52M Visitors in 2015 [Curbed Chicago]
- Chicago rated top big U.S. city by Condé Nast Traveler readers [Curbed Chicago]